Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around. — II Kings 6:17
It was still dark when the alarm went off. I reached over to the nightstand for my glasses. Found them. As I looked down at the clock and the electric blanket control, it was all indistinct. Now, admittedly, I think my eyes need to warm up, and might not really do so until coffee is made, but this was different. A slight panic set in.
I took my glasses off. I put them back on. There was minimal change between having them off and on. What was going on?
Here’s some background: A local optical store was able to place my lenses in a new frame that was almost like my previous frame. I had cracked my frame when I walked into a column in a completely dark hallway of a church I was visiting. Gorilla glue had put the frame back together, more or less.
My wife had found the old specs (the cracked, glue-repaired frame with no lenses) and placed them on the nightstand — unbeknownst to me. So, the frames that I grabbed had no lenses in them, thus explaining the near equally bad vision.
The Bible frequently speaks of the eye — and of vision.
The Psalmist’s eye wants to see God. The neighbor’s eye can have a speck in it. Our own eye can have a railroad tie in it. The eye of a sinner can feel unworthy to look up. The eye of the Pharisee can look for peccadilloes in others and avoid looking in the mirror. The eye of a lover can search the horizon of his or her beloved. God opened thirsty Hagar’s eyes and she saw water. Leviticus warns a community of the consequences of closing its eyes to wrong practices.
The eye can need healing. Jesus touches a blind man’s eye. Elsewhere, a man needs his eye touched a second time to bring things into focus — so that there can be clarity as to whether it is a tree swaying in the wind or a person walking.
After a bad hair day — a really bad hair day — Samson has his eyes plucked out. Kings who trusted politics and alliances more than they trusted God were deported and many also lost their sight.
Recently, I have vividly learned the importance of light in dark places, a corrective lens being in place, and the importance a few millimeters can make in seeing clearly. And around me, others see the worst, or absolutely no fault, in a new president. Things are blurry.
Perhaps it is the religious zealot Saul who most clearly points us to whether we are really seeing clearly. He had a clear vision for what the church should be. God found Saul in the light of day, exposed him to more light, and then had him blinded with darkness. Saul had to be led away, completely dependent on others to guide him. When God helped reorient Saul’s thinking, something like scales fell from his eyes and he could see things differently. He had a new focus.
A repentant slave trader gave us the hymn verse, “I once was blind, but now I see ...” Blind hymn writer Fannie Crosby gave us glimpses of God’s kingdom though she never saw an earthly image. Vision requires more than eyes.
I doubt any of you would wear glasses frames without lenses. Or wear glasses that caused you to not focus precisely. You wouldn’t let anyone talk you into intentionally being blurry. You know all too well the importance of clear vision.
It seems lately that people have been seeing red. Some people chaffed under our previous president and others are chaffing under a new president. Some days, I feel like our collective vision is off. Things feel less civil. It seems like things for 2020 are already gearing up.
On the second Wednesday of November 2020, who do you want to see as the next president of the United States? What is your vision for 2021? Is God’s eye upon our nation? What if people of faith would prepare for 2020 by seeking to make sure that they are seeing 20/20?
Cue the chorus: Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. ... I want to see you ...
As we come closer to Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day, may God open the eyes of our hearts and may you help frame the vision for a better world.
Jarred Hammet is a Presbyterian minister living in Macon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.